Cowboys tie for 17th at Reno Tournament of Champions
"It's a tough tournament for sure," Crook County head wrestling coach Jake Gonzalez said following Saturday's Reno Tournament of Champions, which was held at the Events Center in Reno, Nevada. "We had four left coming into today. As it gets into the later rounds in this tournament, it just gets tougher and tougher."
After easily winning their first two tournaments of the season, the Cowboys had just two placers this weekend as they tied for 17th in the 140-team field.
Kyle Knudtson, who was seeded fourth coming into the tournament, which is considered to be the toughest tournament of the season in the Western United States, lost in the semifinals, before finishing fourth at 182 pounds.
The only other Cowboy to place was heavyweight Caleb Parrott, who was seeded seventh, and placed sixth at 285 pounds.
"Kyle wrestled really well," Gonzalez said. "Caleb wrestled well too – our two placers."
The two remaining Cowboys to survive to Saturday in the tournament were Hunter Mode, 126, and Jaxson Rhoden, 195. Mode lost in the second round of the tournament, then battled back through the consolation rounds, winning five consecutive matches before finally being eliminated from the competition.
"Mode wrestled well too," Gonzalez said. "He battled. He got a tough draw and then he battled all the way back. When you lose in this tournament, it's a tough grind coming back. Jaxson wrestled well too, I thought, but he ran into a couple of tough kids."
Gonzalez added that freshman Gavin McLean also had a good tournament, reaching the quarterfinals at 160 pounds before dropping two consecutive matches.
"Overall it was a tough tournament," Gonzalez said. "I thought we battled and we just have to keep getting better."
Poway High School of California won the tournament with 207 points, while Allen, Texas, finished in second with 201 points. Pomona, California and Pueblo County, Colorado tied for third place with 172 points.
Crescent Valley, one of the top rivals for the Cowboys in Class 5A wrestling was the highest placing Oregon team in the tournament, taking eighth place with 134.5 points.
Other teams in the top 10 included Vacaville, California, fifth with 159 points, Choctaw, Oklahoma (sixth, 141.5), Wasatch, Utah (seventh, 141), Oakdale, California (ninth, 121) and Grandview, Colorado, 10th with 119 points.
Both the Cowboys and Sprague High School from Salem finished with 96 points, while Roseburg finished in 29th place with 80 points.
The Cowboys struggled in the early rounds of the tournament.
Freshman Tucker Bonner, who had finished third at 106 pounds in each of the Cowboys' previous tournaments lost his first two matches in Reno and was eliminated from the tournament without getting a single victory. Fellow freshman Brayden Duke went 0-2 at 145 pounds, while sophomore Ben Sather was 0-2 at 152 pounds and senior Garrett Bond went 0-2 at 170 pounds.
Sophomores Steven Ware, 113, and Trevor Martin, 120, didn't fare much better, going just 1-2 at the tournament as did junior Gage Perry at 138 pounds and senior Mario Hanson at 220 pounds.
Possibly the biggest disappointment for the Cowboys at the tournament was the performance of Zach Mauras, who went into the tournament undefeated at 132 pounds. The junior lost his first match of the tournament, and finished with just a 2-2 record. Mode's losses at 126 pounds were his first losses of the year as well. McLean finished with a 2-2 record, while Parrott went 4-3, Rhoden 3-2, and Knudtson 5-2.
One other Cowboy also competed Reno. Jace England, was the lone member of the Cowboy B team, finishing the tournament with a 2-2 record at 120 pounds.
England scored two points in the tournament, making the Cowboy B team 125th out of the 140 teams at the event.
The Cowboys spent the week after the Coast Classic working hard on conditioning, however, Gonzalez didn't think that had any bearing on how the team fared at Reno.
"I think that they were ready to go," he said. "We trained pretty hard that week, but we came into this getting them to peak and getting them feeling pretty good. You never know, but I don't think it was a problem. This tournament is tough and you have got to be ready to go."
While the Cowboy varsity was challenging themselves against the top teams in the Western United States, the Cowboy JV team was also being tested as they competed in the Adrian Irwin Memorial Tournament, which was held at Ridgeview High School in Redmond.
The Cowboys finished in the middle of the pack at the varsity tournament, scoring 60.5 points to finish 13th in the 23-team field.
Mountain View won the tournament with 307 points, while Redmond finished second, 291.5 and Grants Pass third, 235.
Rounding out the top 10 were Burns, 228, Culver, 214.5, La Pine, 178, Bend, 158.5, Nyssa, 147, Ridgeview, 93 and West Salem, 75.
"I talked to the coaches over there and they were battling," Gonzalez said. "It's good to have both teams wrestling. It's good for them to get that varsity competition and to get that mat time."
The Adrian Irwin Memorial had a two-pound weight allowance, so weight classes for the event are different from the norm.
The lone Cowboy to place in the tournament was Conrad Parker, who finished fourth at 122 pounds with a 2-3 record.
Other Cowboys in the tournament were Tyree Willis, 2-2 at 108 pounds, Trentyn Maryanski, 1-2 at 122 pounds, Conner Rash, 2-2 at 128 pounds, Tyler Schlachter 0-2 at 128 pounds, Wyatt Wood, 2-2 at 128 pounds, Mason Clark, 1-2 at 134 pounds, Tucker Standiford, 0-2 at 134 pounds, Gage Hanson, 1-2 at 140 pounds, Victor Rodriguez, 1-2 at 147 pounds, Elijah Becker, 0-2 at 154 pounds, Nathaniel Littrell, 0-2 at 162 pounds, Clayton Berman, 0-2 at 162 pounds, Ray Solis, 0-2, 162 pounds, Gabe Saenz, 2-2, 172 pounds, Colton Schlachter, 0-2, 184, Joseph Miller, 1-2, 222 and Tanklin Thomasson, 0-2 at 287 pounds.
Gonzalez said that the cowboys were going to take a few days off following the Reno Tournament and then go back to work this Friday to prepare for their next competition, the Rollie Lane Invitational, which will be held Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4-5 in Nampa, Idaho.
"They (the wrestling team) are doing the right thing," Gonzalez said. "This weekend opened up some things that we need to work on, but they are competing. Go Cowboys."
Following the Idaho tournament, the Cowboys have a pair of dual meets on the road at Redmond on Thursday, Jan. 10 and at Roseburg on Saturday, Jan. 12.
The Cowboys do not wrestle at home until Thursday, Jan. 17 when the host the Clash Before the Classic. Wrestling begins at 5:30 p.m. The following day marks the first day of the Oregon Wrestling Classic, which will be held at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond.